We’re getting ready for the media to lambast young voters, and especially young women, as being apathetic this election season. To combat this pathetic and inaccurate myth, we decided to tell you why we’re voting today:
Megan S.: This election matters to me because it will determine the future direction of our country, and whether we’re committed to protecting our basic human rights, like the right to health care. It matters to me because I’m a young person and I know the future of my country, even beyond the next four years, hinges upon us standing up for what I believe in today. I am voting because my voice counts and I want us to continue to move forward together.
Dena: I vote because countless women, men, and children have fought and died throughout the years for the right to vote. I vote because as a queer woman of color, my reproductive rights and civil liberties depend on it. I vote because there are too many disenfranchised voices and voters in this country. I vote for the countless individuals around the world who cannot.
This election matters because we need a President who will work to build up and protect the many freedoms we have as American citizens. We need a President who will make America a nation that we can all be proud of. We need a President who will push for human and civil rights for all Americans, not just the seldom few. Last, we need a President who will level the playing field so that all of us has an equal shot to succeed in this nation.
Quite frankly, I’m voting because my life depends on it.
Shelby: Today I’m voting for pro-equality candidates on the local, state, and national level because the decisions made by politicians impact the complicated, intersectional lived experiences of people across the US and the world. I’m casting a ballot for a country in which no young woman is ever denied access to reproductive health services, or sterilized against her will, or shackled while she gives birth. I’m voting for a nation that embraces and uplifts trans folks, that never tells its citizens who they can love, or supports social, economic, and cultural oppression of people based on the color of their skin, their country of birth, and/or their economic status. I’m voting for the America I want: a nation that actively works to fulfill the promise of “created equal” without any qualifiers.
But I am also casting my vote in this election for the next one. Because we have lived with the myth that young people are apathetic long enough. In reality, the young folks I meet understand that environmental justice, racial justice, reproductive justice, anti-racism, queer justice and immigrant rights are all connected, not just in the head but in the body and the heart. I want my elected officials and the media to be stunned tonight as they grapple with the new reality that the block known as “young voters” blew the election out of the water and are never to be ignored again. Today is the day we go, en masse, to the ballot box to send the message loud and clear: we are the new revolution and we will never, ever go back.
Sophia: While many of my AG cohorts will be standing in line to vote or working GOTV operations today, I’m going to sleep in. I voted. By mail. A week and a half ago. No, I don’t do absentee ballots because in Oregon, all voting is by mail. The burnt orange envelope arrived a few weeks ago along with a fat voters information packet and thorough directions on how to fill out the ballot (blue or black ink; where to sign).
Our ballot had initiatives like the school bond (yes!) that allots funds from the corporate kicker tax to Portland Public schools that desperately need repair. There is a proposal that if voted in would remove estate tax on property transfers (vote no). And I voted in favor of Kate Brown and President Barrack Obama.
What isn’t on the Oregon ballot are any voting rights laws, which have become a central issue during this election year. Time and again we have seen giant lines and giant ballots, designed to depress turnout. We have seen voter ID laws in numerous states and State Attorney Generals instituting mandates and confusing rules to invalidate votes. There are racist bill boards, misleading robo calls, flyers in Spanish directing voters to incorrect polling places.
Election fraud. Voter disenfranchisement. None of it an accident, in actuality, a result of the radical tea party wave of state congress people, mayors and Governors elected in 2010.
If I want anything, it would be for more states to allow voting by mail like Oregon and Washington. And for states to begin voting out these radical politicians hell bent on removing voters’ franchise in order to regain power.
Nicole: In the sole developed country where only half the population has voted in elections for the past fifty years, is it really necessary to ask why it is important for young women to vote? We need to change this, and we are the ones to do it.
We look beyond the red and blue states and the electoral college and see the power of our voices. We understand that free, honest elections and peaceful transfer of power are a gift, to be appreciated and honored by voting. We recognize how much is on the line, the next president will nominate a Supreme Court justice who will in all likelihood determine if Roe is overturned. We remember that our government is by and for the people, not some people, all of them.
For some, their political action this season starts and ends at the voting booth, but not for us. I started working in April before the primary when I went to Pennsylvania for the first time to begin educating voters about the voter id laws. From then on, do you know who I saw phone banking and canvassing and registering voters? Young women. You should be proud. No matter what is said, you know the time you put into this election. The friends you explained why their vote matters. The grandparent you got an absentee ballot for. The neighbors you registered to vote. You did that, and it counts. Even if the world isn’t quite ready to recognize your commitment to democracy, we do and we thank you.
Kaitlyn: I vote because I love the voting process. I LOVE it. Having spent time in countries where the democratic process is less than orderly, I love our voter registrations, I love our peaceful, sometimes hours-long lines. I love the sense of community and neighborhood it creates. Since Twitter happened, I love people’s updates from the centers. ‘Singing Britney Spears’ ‘Stronger’ while waiting in this freezing line,’ someone wrote, ‘other voters not amused.’
I love that on this day, after months of ever-worsening political divisiveness (a friend’s father yelled at me about how terrible liberals are until I cried the other day – true story), we all come together and do this thing that says that we are Americans. I love that there are no fights at the centers, no people yelling and screaming and being harmful to one another. I love that we come together to make decisions about who will represent us, and whether we like it or not, we abide by the will of our fellow peoples.
Most of all, I vote because Slava, who works for my father and has been for more than twenty years like a crazy, increasingly less comprehensible Russian uncle to me, went through the process of getting his citizenship so that he could vote. He beamed with pride that first election day; he told my father very seriously that it was his right as an American to go vote and he should be paid for that day (he was). Then he showed up to vote and was turned away. He had no idea he needed to register. Don’t worry, he never made that mistake again. Although his English has slipped to a word or two and I don’t think he could tell you anymore how Congress or the electoral college works, he still votes on every election day. That’s our right and our duty as Americans, and it is bad-ass. I don’t care, today, how you vote – and you must know how seriously I mean that. Friends, countrymen, Americans – just vote.
NYCProchoiceMD: I vote because although our system is far from perfect, it’s allowed our country to grow and progress for the last 200 years and will continue to do so only if we continue to participate in it. I vote to preserve the human and civil rights of my family, friends and neighbors in the hopes that some day soon we will look back aghast at the days when the right to choose when, how, and with whom to have a family was up for popular vote. I vote because I am part of the solution, and you are too.
Deva: I vote because I believe in democracy’s ability to bring freedom and safety to society. As a citezen of the United States, a country whose policies effect the world, I feel responsible to do my part to elect a person who will be rational and kind.
More importantly, I vote to respect the privlidge of voting, and to honor the fact that I live in a time and country where being a woman doesnt mean I can not vote. And as a daughter of a resident alien (who can not vote), I vote because not doing so would mean my family doesnt have a say in our country’s future.